Big Think: Mary Louise Parker

Mary Louise Parker is a bestselling author and award-winning actress. Her first book, Dear Mr. You, is a New York Times bestseller that follows the legacy of her father, a three-tour American soldier. She has been a frequent contributor to Esquire magazine.  Her writing has appeared in O Magazine, The Riveter, Good Housekeeping, Bullet, and others. She is a Tony, Emmy, Obie, and two-time Golden Globe winner for her roles in the Proof, How I Learned to DrivePrelude to a Kiss, Four Dogs and a Bone, and The Snow Geese. On television she has appeared in Mike Nichols’ Angels in America, Weeds, and The West Wing, along with numerous television movies. She performed on the big screen in RED, RIPD, Fried Green Tomatoes, The Client, Solitary Man, Red Dragon, The Portrait of a Lady, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Military Life Is Misunderstood by the Left and the Right

Parker is the daughter of an American soldier who fought in three wars. In her Big Think video “Military Life Is Misunderstood by the Left and the Right,” Parker discusses stereotypes that she has grown up hearing about soldiers.

“I think that people have an idea that there is one kind of mind, one kind of mentality that is attracted to the military and that’s not necessarily true,” says Parker. “It can be true. I do understand it and maybe in this day and age it’s more true than certainly when my father went into the war but my father was in three wars and he was a massive lefty. You know he was the most politically open minded liberal person.  He used to say no one hates war more than a soldier, you know.”

Parker says not only are stereotypes associated with soldiers, but they are also wrongly associated with war in general. She feels outsiders can’t possibly understand war.

“When people think of war people think of movies, people think of games, people think sometimes of photographs, people think sometimes of stories,” says Parker. “But in general I think they think of things which are one step removed from what war actually is.  They think maybe it brings up an image they saw in a movie, a game, a something. They don’t think of it as reality.”

“I think now people don’t have any understanding of what war is,” continues Parker. “I really don’t think the modern mind can take it in.”


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